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Title:
A PORTABLE BARRIER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/171840
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to a portable barrier. The portable barrier includes a plurality of resilient elongate barrier members. The barrier members are connected at alternating ends to neighbouring barrier members. Ends of neighbouring barrier members which are not connected to each other are biased towards each other by resilence of the barrier members.

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Inventors:
MCKINLEY, Neil Bruce (C/- James & Wells Intellectual Property, Level 12 KPMG Centre,,85 Alexandra Street,Waikato Mail Centr, Private Bag 3140 Hamilton 3204, NZ)
JOHNSON, David Edwin (C/- James & Wells Intellectual Property, Level 12 KPMG Centre,,85 Alexandra Street,Waikato Mail Centr, Private Bag 3140 Hamilton 3204, NZ)
WILLIAMS, Michael Bryan (C/- James & Wells Intellectual Property, Level 12 KPMG Centre,,85 Alexandra Street,Waikato Mail Centr, Private Bag 3140 Hamilton 3204, NZ)
Application Number:
NZ2014/000066
Publication Date:
October 23, 2014
Filing Date:
April 16, 2014
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
MCKINLEY, Neil Bruce (C/- James & Wells Intellectual Property, Level 12 KPMG Centre,,85 Alexandra Street,Waikato Mail Centr, Private Bag 3140 Hamilton 3204, NZ)
International Classes:
E01F15/10; A01K3/00; B60Q7/00; E01F13/06
Foreign References:
GB1405780A1975-09-10
GB767365A1957-01-30
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TUCK, Jason et al. (James & Wells Intellectual Property, Private Bag 3140Hamilton, 3240, NZ)
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Claims:
WHAT I CLAIM IS:

1. A portable barrier, including: a plurality of resilient elongate barrier members, the barrier members being connected at alternating ends to neighbouring barrier members, wherein ends of neighbouring barrier members which are not connected to each other are biased towards each other by resilence of the barrier members.

2. The portable barrier of claim 1 , wherein each elongate barrier member is a panel.

3. The portable barrier of either claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the barrier members are made of a plastics material.

4. The portable barrier of claim 3, wherein the plastics material is polycarbonate.

5. The portable barrier of any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the barrier members are transparent.

6. The portable barrier of any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein at least one of the elongate barrier members includes at least one aperture.

7. The portable barrier of any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein the unconnected ends of neighbouring barrier members are biased towards each other by material properties of the barrier members.

8. The portable barrier of any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein neighbouring barrier members are connected using a joint which restricts pivotal movement of the barrier members relative to each other.

9. The portable barrier of any one of claims 1 to 8, wherein the ends of the barrier members include a reinforced portion, configured to increase rigidity of the barrier members at the reinforced portions.

10. The portable barrier of claim 9, wherein the reinforced portion includes a plurality of ribs.

1 1. The portable barrier of any one of claims 1 to 10, wherein the barrier includes a biasing means between neighbouring barrier members.

12. The portable barrier of claim 11 , wherein the biasing means includes a plug of resilient material to which neighbouring barrier members are independently secured.

13. The portable barrier of any one of claims 1 to 12, wherein the barrier includes a releasable connector at each end of the chain of barrier members.

14. The portable barrier of claim 13, wherein each connector includes a hook.

15. The portable barrier of claim 14, wherein each connector includes a catch configured to prevent the connector from being released without active intervention by a user.

16. The portable barrier of claim 15, wherein the catch is connected to the hook using a living hinge.

17. The portable barrier of any one of claims 13 to 16, wherein each releasable connector includes a swivel.

Description:
A PORTABLE BARRIER

STATEMENT OF CORRESPONDING APPLICATIONS

This application is based on the Provisional specification filed in relation to New Zealand Patent Application Number 609518, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a portable barrier, in particular an expandable portable barrier.

BACKGROUND ART

It is common pastoral farming practice to divide grazing land into paddocks in order to assist in feed planning and managing groups of animals within the entire herd. Such paddocks are typically interconnected using races to facilitate travel between paddocks and other farm services such as milking or shearing sheds. In order to guide animals between desired locations, farmers will often temporarily block entry to certain races or paddocks. The most predominant way of achieving this uses a length of wire or poly tape between two hooked handles (commonly known as a tape gate) to span between fenceposts and block the gateway or race.

However, such tape gates have a number of issues associated with them. Predominantly among these is that they can be difficult to see. The tape has a tendency to become twisted - whether during storage or by the wind when in place - which significantly reduces the profile of the tape. This thin profile can be difficult to see - particularly in circumstances common on a farm.

Because of the nature of the milking cycle, dairy farmers in particular will often travel along races in the dark or at least low light levels. While vehicles typically have headlights, the narrow profile of the tape is such that it can be difficult to make out in time to safely stop. Further, in dry conditions dust raised from the race can obscure vision.

Even though the tape is relatively light weight, it should be appreciated that coming in contact with it at speed may cause damage to equipment, and injury or even death to the person or animal. A common mode of travel on pastoral farms is on motorbike, and unseen tape gates across a race expose the rider to a significant risk of injury - whether through direct contact to the rider by the gate, or causing a crash following contact with the bike. Additionally, these wire or tape gates can be difficult to store and transport. Typically they are wound onto and off a reel during storage and installation respectively, and have a tendency to loosen while on that reel. Alternatively, they may be simply formed in loose loops. This can lead to the tape catching and tangling during transport or use, frustrating users. It is an object of the present invention to address the foregoing problems or at least to provide the public with a useful choice.

All references, including any patents or patent applications cited in this specification are hereby incorporated by reference. No admission is made that any reference constitutes prior art. The discussion of the references states what their authors assert, and the applicants reserve the right to challenge the accuracy and pertinency of the cited documents. It will be clearly understood that, although a number of prior art publications are referred to herein, this reference does not constitute an admission that any of these documents form part of the common general knowledge in the art, in New Zealand or in any other country.

Throughout this specification, the word "comprise", or variations thereof such as "comprises" or "comprising", will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated element, integer or step, or group of elements integers or steps, but not the exclusion of any other element, integer or step, or group of elements, integers or steps.

Further aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the ensuing description which is given by way of example only.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the present invention there is provided a portable barrier, including: a plurality of resilient elongate barrier members, the barrier members being connected at alternating ends to neighbouring barrier members, wherein ends of neighbouring barrier members which are not connected to each other are biased towards each other by resilence of the barrier members.

In general terms the present invention provides a barrier which may be used to span across a space. The concertina like structure provided by connecting alternating ends may allow the barrier to be expanded, with the biasing of the unconnected ends of adjacent barrier members maintaining tension in the barrier when raised above ground level. This biasing may also assists in retracting the barrier into a folded, compact form - and maintaining that form during storage and transportation.

It should be appreciated that reference to the elongate barrier members being connected in a chain means that they are connected in a series, one after the other. In a preferred embodiment each elongate barrier member is a panel. Reference to a panel should be understood to mean a thin piece of material. It is envisaged that the thinness of the panels may assist in achieving a compact form when the barrier is collapsed - which may increase the ease of transport and storage. It should be appreciated that while this is anticipated as being particularly useful, reference to the elongate members being panels is not intended to be limiting, and in other embodiments they may be of a thickness comparable to their width.

In one embodiment, opposing surfaces of elongate members connected to each other may be complimentary - such that they fit against each other in intimate contact. However, it should be appreciated that this is not intended to be limiting and that the elongate members may be curved or otherwise shaped.

In a preferred embodiment the elongate barrier members are made of resilient but relatively stiff material. Motivations for this characteristic will be discussed further below. For example, it is envisaged that the barrier members may be made of a plastics material. In a particularly preferred embodiment the material may be polycarbonate.

While it should be appreciated that this is not intended to be limiting, polycarbonate has a number of properties which have been identified as being useful in the context of the present invention. Polycarbonate is known for its strength and durability, while retaining a greater degree of flexibility in comparison with other plastics such as poly (methyl methacrylate). Polycarbonate has also been identified as having favourable properties with regard to failure: tending to deform and crack, rather than shatter. This may be particularly relevant where the barrier is to be used in pathways where it may inadvertently be struck by a person or animal. Reducing the likelihood of shrapnel or debris being created increases the safety factor of the barrier. Further, in a preferred embodiment the material of the barrier members is transparent. It has been identified that the barrier members - particularly when in the form of panels - may act as a light guide, with light entering the faces of members the highlighting the edges due to internal reflection. In exemplary embodiments, the barrier may be configured such that when installed the edges of the barrier members face in the direction from which vehicles, animals and/or people may approach.

In preferred embodiments the material of the barrier member is brightly coloured to assist in visually distinguishing the barrier from the local environment, in particular, a fluorescent colour such as "safety orange" may assist in warning approaching vehicles that a barrier is in place.

In particular, the polycarbonate marketed by Bayer AG at the time of filing this application as Makrolon® 3103 is considered to have properties suited to use in the present invention. This grade is generally characterized by high strength and impact strength, and high light transmission characteristics. The material also includes a UV-stabilizer, which is envisaged as being desirable to extend the life of the barrier when used in outdoor environments such as on a farm. In a preferred embodiment at least one of the elongate barrier members includes at least one aperture. It is envisaged that by doing so material costs may be reduced. Also, the weight of the barrier may be reduced - assisting with ease of transportation and handling, and potentially reducing the degree of bias required to maintain the desired tension of the barrier when expanded. Further, the aperture(s) may assist in disturbing wind flow as it passes the barrier, stimulating movement in the barrier and assisting in making it visually distinctive when installed. Additionally, the edges of the apertures may assist in increasing visibility of the barrier - being highlighted as discussed above.

In some embodiments, at least one elongate barrier member may include a raised portion. It is envisaged that this may serve to increase rigidity of the member for the same, or similar, volume of material. Further, the raised portion may be used to present an additional edge in a side profile of the barrier for the purposes of visibility as discussed above.

In a preferred embodiment, the unconnected ends of neighbouring barrier members are biased towards each other by material properties of the barrier members. For example, it is envisaged that the neighbouring barrier members may be connected using joint which restrict pivotal movement of the barrier members relative to each other - leading to the barrier members to flex when the respectively unconnected ends of neighbouring barrier members are drawn apart. The stiffness and resilience of the barrier members cause them to return to their original shape when the force is released, drawing the unconnected ends back towards each other.

In particular, it is envisaged that the joint may be a pin joint - where the connected ends of neighbouring barrier members include complementary barrels and recesses through which a pin may be inserted to complete the joint. It is envisaged that such a configuration may enable the joint to be contained - which may be both aesthetically pleasing and also assist in maintaining a compact form.

It should be appreciated that this is not intended to be limiting, and that other types of joint or connection between barrier members may be used. For example, it is envisaged that the ends may be connected by way of welding, bonding the members together.

In a preferred embodiment, the ends of the barrier members include a reinforced portion, configured to increase rigidity of the barrier members at the reinforced portions. In doing so, it is envisaged that flexure of the barrier members may be directed to occur towards their centre rather than at the point of connection to neighbouring barrier members. This structure means that when force is released, the reinforced portions provide guidance for barrier members to return to their non-deformed state - particularly where pivotal movement of the reinforced portions relative to each other is restricted.

In a preferred embodiment the reinforced portion includes a plurality of ribs. Preferably the ribs extend lengthwise on the barrier member, providing rigidity in that direction. It is envisaged that the ribs may achieve the desired rigidity while maintaining lower material cost and weight in comparison with creating the reinforced portion by simply increasing the thickness of the ends. Because neighbouring barrier members are connected at alternating ends, this creates a concertina folding effect whereby the barrier members fold up against each other when released. This assists in keeping the barrier in a compact and contained form when not in use. Further, the tension means that the barrier may span a range of distances without sagging too much. In another embodiment, the barrier includes a biasing means between neighbouring barrier members. For example, the biasing means may be a spring - whether within the joint between the barrier members or interconnecting them directly.

In another exemplary embodiment the biasing means may include a plug of resilient material such as rubber, to which neighbouring barrier members are independently secured. When the unconnected ends are drawn apart the plug flexes, and when the ends are released returns to its original shape - thus returning the barrier members to their original orientation relative to the plug (and thus each other).

In a preferred embodiment the barrier includes a releasable connector at each end of the chain of barrier members. More preferably each connector includes a hook which may be used to attach the barrier to a connection point such as the wire of a fence.

In a preferred embodiment the connector may include a catch configured to prevent the connector being released from its installed position without active intervention by a user. It is envisaged that the catch may be connected using a living hinge to the releasable connector, such that the releasable connector and catch may be manufactured as one piece. It is envisaged that the releasable connectors may include a swivel between the connector and the barrier member to which it is attached. It is envisaged that this may assist in reducing stress on the connection between barrier members due to potential twisting of the barrier during installation - improving the longevity of the product. Further, such swivels may permit the physical footprint of the folded barrier to be further reduced by folding the handles flat against the end barrier members, improving ease of storage and transportation. In some embodiments, the barrier may include electrically conductive elements in the releasable connectors and barrier members. By doing so, the barrier may be connected to an electric fence line and electrified in the manner generally known in the art in relation to tape gates.

Embodiments of the present invention may have the following advantages over the prior art:

• Higher visibility when installed due to the use of a structure which resists a significant reduction in profile of the barrier as the result of twisting, and the use of materials which catch light to a greater degree than those currently used; and

• Improved ease of installation, storage, and transport due to the tensioned structure resisting tangling, and maintaining the contracted form of the barrier when released.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further aspects of the present invention will become apparent from the ensuing description which is given by way of example only and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1A is a side view of an exemplary portable barrier according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 1 B is a face on view of an exemplary panel for use with the portable barrier according to an embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 1C is a side on view of an exemplary panel for use with the portable barrier according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 1 D is a perspective view of an embodiment of a joint between exemplary panels for use with the portable barrier according to an embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 2 illustrates the exemplary portable barrier under tension according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3A is a face on sectional view of an exemplary first type of panel for use with a portable barrier according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3B is a side sectional view of the first type of panel; FIG. 3C is a face on sectional view of an exemplary second type of panel for use with a portable barrier according to an embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 4 is a side view of an exemplary portable barrier in use according to a further embodiment of the present invention.

BEST MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION FIG. 1A illustrates a portable barrier (generally indicated by arrow 1). The portable barrier 1 includes a chain of elongate barrier members in the form of panels 2. Neighbouring panels 2 are connected at alternating ends to form a concertina or corrugated type structure which will be described further with respect to the other figures.

The connection between panels 2 is achieved using a pin joint which holds the faces of the panels together at the point of connection. It should be appreciated that this connection may be achieved by other means - for example welding of the panels.

Releasable connectors (3a and 3b) are provided at each end of the barrier 1. Each releasable connector 3a and 3b includes a hook 4a and 4b respectively, configured to be placed on or over connection points on either side of the space the barrier is intended to span. Latches 5a and 5b on living hinges 6a and 6b respectively prevent the hooks 4a and 4b from inadvertently being released from the connection points until removed by a user.

Swivels 7a and 7b allow the releasable connectors 3a and 3b to be rotated in order to be hooked onto a convenient connection point without twisting the panels, and also rotated flat against end panels 2 for ease of storage. Referring to FIG. 1 B, each panel 2 is made of transparent polycarbonate - preferably having a bright colour such as safety orange. Apertures 8 in the face 9 of the panel 2 assist in reducing the overall weight of the barrier, but also create additional edges from which light may exit, having entered via the face 9 and been internally reflected. Further, the inventors envisage that such apertures 8 may assist in catching wind and causing movement in the barrier 1 to make it more visually distinctive. Indentations 10 in the side of the panels 2 may further assist in reducing the weight of the barrier 1.

In another embodiment, the apertures 8 may be replaced by one or more raised portions - potentially increasing the rigidity of the panel 2 if required, but at least presenting an additional edge in a side profile of the panel 2 for the purpose of visibility. Similarly, sections of the releasable connectors 3a and 3b of FIG. 1A may include a plurality of ridges (not illustrated) for the same purpose.

In FIG. 1 B and FIG. 1 C it may be seen that the panel 2 includes reinforced portions 1 1a and 1 1b at the respective ends of the panel 2, with a central section 12 therebetween. The reinforced portions 1 1a and 11 b include ribbed sections 13a and 13b respectively, which provide greater rigidity in the reinforced portions 11 a and 11 b than the central section 12. The result of this will be described further below with regard to FIG. 2.

Each panel 2 also includes complementary halves 14a and 14b of a pin joint on opposite faces of their respective end. This enables a single panel design to be used to create the chain of panels of the barrier 1 , which will herein be described with reference to FIG. 1 D.

The pin joint half 14a includes alternating protrusions 15a and recesses 16a. A complementary arrangement is provided in the other pin joint half (not illustrated by FIG. 1 D), such that the pin joint halves mate flat against together (as may be seen in FIG. 1A). A pin 17 is inserted through an aperture 18 in the pin halves to secure them together. The surface of the panel 2 surrounding the pin halves - for example area 9a - is flat, such that when the ends are mated they cannot pivot with respect to each other.

FIG. 2 illustrates the effect of pulling the ends of a section 200 of the barrier 1 apart in the directions indicated by arrows 201 a and 201 b. As the polycarbonate panels 2 are deformed due to the connections between them resisting rotation, a tension is created across the length of the barrier. The stiffness and resilience of the panels 2 biases the unconnected ends of neighbouring panels towards each other in the directions indicated by arrows 202a and 202b. On release, the bias returns the panels 2 to the form illustrated in FIG. 1A, guided by the fixed relationship of reinforced portions 11a and 11 b, which may be easily stored.

FIG. 3A, FIG. 3B, and FIG. 3C illustrate an embodiment for biasing the unconnected ends of neighbouring panels towards each other.

FIG. 3A shows a first type of panel end 300, including two loops 301 a and 301 b on opposite sides of the panel end 300.

In FIG. 3B the loop 301 a of the panel end 300 may be seen from the side. A plug 302 of rubber or rubber-like material is inserted into the loop 301a. The plug 302 includes a slot 303. A similar plug is inserted into loop 301 b.

Referring to FIG. 3C, a second type of panel end 304 is shown, having two lateral tabs 305a and 305b. The tabs 305a and 305b are received by the respective slots of the plugs in the loops 301 a and 301 b.

In use, the plugs are generally in a fixed relationship with the loops 301 a and 301 b due to the elongate nature of the plug and loop resisting rotation relative to each other. Similarly, the slot and tabs interact to prevent relative rotation. However, the elastic properties of the plugs allows some flexure, in turn permitting a degree of pivotal movement of the connected panels relative to each other when unconnected ends are drawn apart. The resilience of the plug assists in returning the panels to their original orientation once the force is released. FIG, 3 illustrates the use of a portable barrier 400 generally configured in the manner of the barrier illustrated in FIG. 1A.

The barrier 400 is intended to span between two fence posts 401a and 401 b. A first hook 402a is connected to fence wire 403a, and the barrier 1 stretched to span the distance between the fence posts 401a and 401 b. A second hook 402b is fitted over second fence wire 403b, and the tension of the barrier 400 maintains its vertical offset from the ground.

Aspects of the present invention have been described by way of example only and it should be appreciated that modifications and additions may be made thereto without departing from the scope thereof as defined in the appended claims.